Daniel Depaola, a truck driver from Florida, was traveling through Colorado last July when he decided to stop off at the Lakeside Amusement Park, “just to have a little bit of fun, you know.”
Depaola, 25, rode The Cyclone roller coaster. And then he rode it again. And again. And again.
It was on that fourth ride that something went wrong, he says. Sitting near the back of the car and coming around a turn, he tilted farther left than he should have been able to and his raised left arm smacked into the coaster’s white wooden track, according to Depaola.
“At first I thought I just sprained my wrist and lost a layer of skin in the elbow and wrist area,” he said in an interview.
But when the ride ended, Depaola was “in a lot of pain,” as he recalls. A friend helped him to a first aid station to clean the wound. Then he left a report with the park and went to a hospital, where it was discovered he had a severely fractured left wrist requiring surgery, he said.
On April 1, Depaola sued Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver District Court, seeking undisclosed monetary damages. His lawyer, Robby Landis, said Depaola’s medical bills totaled over $100,000 and the park has failed to take responsibility, ignoring requests to negotiate.
“We are absolutely open to an amicable out-of-court resolution but they decided to go a separate way and, to be honest with you, not even give us the time of day or consider the consequences of their actions,” Landis alleged in an interview.
A man who answered the phone at Lakeside Amusement Park on Friday said the park has no comment on the lawsuit. Brenda Fishman, the park’s head of operations, said in an email, “We have a policy not to comment on pending litigation.”
The lawsuit alleges that seatbelts on The Cyclone “were not functioning properly” and “failed to properly secure (Depaola) in the seat.” The lawsuit notes that raising your arms as Depaola did “is the common and well-known custom and practice for riders of roller coasters.”
The Cyclone, a wooden roller coaster, was built in 1940, according to past media reports. Lakeside was opened in 1908 and is family-owned.
Amusement park rides are inspected annually in Colorado and those inspections are certified by the state’s Division of Oil and Public Safety. Certificates of inspection obtained by BusinessDen show The Cyclone most recently passed an inspection in June 2021, five weeks before the alleged incident, by an insurance company from Kansas. The inspector did not respond to a request by BusinessDen for more details about what his inspection found.
Court records show the park has been sued two other times in the past decade for injuries.
In 2014, Lakeside was sued by a Westminster man, Gary Archuleta. He alleged that in June 2013, he was on the Flying Dutchman ride when his swing dropped, collided with another swing and then skidded along the ground, causing back and neck injuries that he said amounted to “permanent physical disfigurement, disability and impairment” and “loss of enjoyment of life.”
The amusement park questioned the extent of Archuleta’s injuries, claiming that he “continued perusing the park for up to two hours” before reporting a lower back injury to park staff and that Archuleta didn’t go to a hospital until the next afternoon.
The case was settled out of court in October 2015 for an undisclosed amount of money.
In 2013, the amusement park was sued by a father and son from Denver, James and Christopher Sisneros. According to the Sisneroses, they were riding The Spider one summer night in 2011 when a large piece of wood hit James, the father, in the head from above. He went to an emergency room and was diagnosed with a brain injury, along with back, neck and head injuries. His son suffered “severe emotional distress,” according to the lawsuit.
The amusement park questioned the extent of James Sisneros’ injuries, particularly the brain injury, and alleged in court documents that he showed signs of exaggerating his symptoms. The case was settled out of court in July 2014 for an undisclosed amount of money.
Landis declined to say how much money he believes his client is owed but Depaola said that he wishes Lakeside Amusement Park no ill will.
“I’m not trying to get the park shut down or anything. I just want them to make the right safety adjustments so it can run better in the future and have no more incidents like this happen.”